Dear Bird Talk,
This past winter in Florida, I went to a walk-in clinic and paid
cash for the visit. The doctor sent me to the nearby hospital for an
ultrasound of my leg and, again, I paid them cash. After arriving back
in Ontario, I mailed my receipts to the London OHIP office. They
have returned them to me and requested detailed statements, plus the
travel insurance company which I use. I only have receipts because of
cash payment, and the amounts were less than my deductible. Is this
the usual action? Do others receive any compensation from OHIP?
The hospital and a radiology department sent me additional bills,
but I negotiated them and paid no more.
My immediate question is, what OHIP employee needs to
know more about an ultrasound bill than that it is a bill for an ul-
trasound. Sometimes, OHIP makes me as crazy as the crooked
U.S. health-care system. I notice that you paid your bills in cash
and got receipts, but then got more bills. These are fraudulent
bills and most providers in the U.S. will try to get more money
from you. They hope that your insurer will pay by mistake; they
hope that you are forgetful and will pay the bill again; they hope
to defraud you and/or your insurance company!
OHIP is another matter. They want to know who your travel in-
surance company is so that they can get them to do the work.
Medipac Assist has an agreement with OHIP (and several other
provinces) to pay the bills and then submit them, in bundles, for
payment. So, if you are insured with Medipac, you should just
send the bills to us and we will get your money for you. In most
cases, of course, this money is simply applied to your claim un-
less it is under your deductible, as yours was. Congratulations
for fighting back on those extra bills.
Dear Bird Talk,
We rented a car in Colorado and had a slow leak in a tire; we found
there was no spare, only a blow-up kit with a sealer included. However,
if you had a slash in your tire it would be useless, so you may wish
to be sure that you have a spare if you are travelling to remote areas.
In addition, the airbag recall states that this is a main concern in
high heat and humidity areas, so they would not be concerned with
notifying Canadians. This could be a problem for snowbirds, as we
travel to warm areas for the winter and should possibly see about the
inherent danger of our airbags activating when we go south.
St. George, ON
Always check your spare tire to make sure that it is working
and suitable for use before travelling, and ask when renting a
car. We tend to just ignore the substantial bad press about air-
bags, and we do so at our peril. These defective airbags are very
dangerous and, as Mr. Mackay points out, the problem worsens
in the high heat and humidity. And don’t think that it is some-
one else’s problem; almost every car has had airbag recalls. See
your friendly dealer.
Dear Bird Talk,
I’ve read with interest the various letters to Bird Talk in issue 94 of
. The clear, definitive answers to the various questions are
very helpful...almost. I say almost, because I wonder if you’re doing
members a disservice with such emphatic answers without stating
upon which rules you are basing your answers. The rules to which
I refer are the immigration rules enforced by Customs & Border
Protection (CBP) and the taxation rules of the IRS. I believe that it is
CBP who applies the 30-day rule for snowbirds who return to Canada
for Christmas, while Form 8840 of the IRS is very clearly based on
an actual count of the number of days in the U.S. with no mention
of short-term stays on either side of the border. Clearly, there are two
distinct sets of rules which, while similar, are not the same. Snowbirds
must be compliant with all rules and err on the side of caution when
confronted by contradictions.
“Err on the side of caution” is excellent advice. There are
two separate U.S. government agencies and they have different
rules. The INS is the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
– they care about how long you stay in the U.S. and whether you
are eligible for entry at all. They generally allow you to stay for up
to six months in any 12-month period as a visitor. If you leave the
U.S., as on a short vacation, they will not credit you with those
days unless you stay away for at least 30 days.
The IRS is the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (commonly known
as the Tax Man) and they want you to pay taxes to the U.S.
government. If you stay for longer than six months, they assume
that you are resident in the U.S. and they’ll come after you to
pay taxes…on your worldwide income! They deal in calendar
years, just like the Canadian tax people. The IRS will start to
review anyone who stays for three months or longer and then
you may have to prove to them that you are not really a resident
of the U.S. CSA recommends that you complete a Form 8840
every year and file it with the IRS. This will state that you have a
“Closer Connection” to Canada and it could alleviate tax prob-
lems in the future.
Dear Bird Talk,
I see there has been a lot of discussion about many different cellular
plans, and I thought I might weigh in a little with my personal
experiences. I have a secondary property in Las Vegas and travel there
occasionally throughout the year. I have tried adding U.S. travel pack
plans Via FIDO and found it was getting expensive and I used almost
all of my data all of the time. I did try the Roammobility plan as well
and found it OK but, again, slightly expensive. I also tried keeping
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